Tagged: Coal Cares

Coal Cares

During National Asthma Awareness Month (a real commemoration), the fossil fuel industry launched one of its more bizarre public health initiatives to date: Coal Cares™ (www.coalcares.org).

The campaign, which promised to “make asthma cool” with decorative and pop-culture inspired inhalers (“The Bieber,” “Harry Potter,” “My Little Pony,” and “My First Inhaler”), was purportedly a cheeky initiative from Peabody Energy, America’s largest coal company. The slick website also announced that Peabody would offer $10 coupons towards asthma medication to families living within 200 miles of a coal-fired plant, featured a “Kidz Koal Korner” with asthma-related games for tots, an extensive asthma trivia section and FAQ (Peter the Great was asthmatic, who knew!), and a passionate condemnation of solar and wind alternatives.

The project, which unleashed threats of lawsuits and hysterical recriminations from Peabody Coal, was actually a collaboration between a group called Coal is Killing Kids and the Yes Lab. The Coal Cares campaign quickly became a major phenomenon on social media, with hundreds signing up to follow Coal Cares cheeky missives on Twitter, and tens of thousands sharing the campaign on Facebook.

More importantly it put Big Coal on the defensive at a time when they were spending millions of dollars on lobby and phony "greenwashing" campaigns to oppose important Federal updates to clean air laws. The fact that the coal industry is one of the biggest known contributors to childhood asthma in the United States got the front page attention it deserved -- it also highlighted a similar atrocious effort by Big Coal to subvert the education system by teaming up with Scholastic publishers to publish a pro-coal propaganda text book for fourth graders. A week after Coal Cares made a splash, Scholastic dumped the faux text book after widespread publicity and outrage.
 

Selected press:

Read more
Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU) Announces "Coal Cares™" Initiative, New Nationwide Campaign Against Stigma of Childhood Asthma

ST. LOUIS, May 10, 2011 / PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Peabody Energy today announced the creation of an innovative new public health initiative designed to combat the stigma of asthma among American children ages 0-18. With Coal Cares™ (www.coalcares.org), Peabody will offer free, custom-branded inhaler actuators to children living within 200 miles of a coal plant, along with coupons worth $10 towards the purchase of the asthma medication itself.

"Too many young Americans face daily schoolyard taunting and bullying because of a condition over which they have no control," said Gregory H. Boyce, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Peabody Energy. "By re-branding the inhaler as a cool, individualized, must-have accessory, Coal Cares™ will empower children to tell bullies: ‘suck it up.’" Children can choose from a variety of youth-themed inhaler cases, from tween faves like "the Bieber" and "My Little Pony," to the "Emo" and "Diamond" inhalers for older, style-conscious youth. There’s even "My First Inhaler," for tots.

Coal Cares™ launches today in commemoration of Asthma Awareness Month, the Environmental Protection Agency’s effort to call attention to rising asthma rates, especially among children. Coal Cares™ and its Puff-Puff™ line of inhalers is the first, and most ambitious, market-friendly public health initiative of this scope of any privately-owned American company, and testifies to the energy industry’s commitment to the well-being of all citizens, including the youngest.

"Our actions are guided by a singular mission: to be a leading worldwide producer and supplier of balanced energy solutions, which power economic prosperity and well-being," said Boyce. "Coal Cares™ brings this mission to life, empowering children everywhere to take control of their destinies, beginning with their own lungs."

"Coal Cares™ is emblematic of the return to self-reliance that healthy entrepreneurship demands," said James Miasmus, Vice President of Government Affairs at Peabody USA. "Costly ‘scrubbing’ technology, on the other hand, is an untested and heavy-handed intrusion into our still-vulnerable economy. At Peabody, we're thinking globally but acting locally, and locating preventive action at the point of consumption, where it belongs."

"Coal Cares™ isn’t just the name of a campaign," said Kevin Briesslau, Vice President of Communications at Peabody Coal. "It’s a philosophy, a way of doing business in harmony with the community we are a part of. After all, coal is the fastest-growing fuel in the world. We're part of America’s heritage, and we’re here to stay."

To learn more about Peabody's Coal Cares™ initiative, visit: www.coalcares.org.

Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU) is the world's largest private-sector coal company and a global leader in clean coal solutions. With 2010 sales of 246 million tons and nearly $7 billion in revenues, Peabody fuels 10 percent of U.S. power and 2 percent of worldwide electricity.

CONTACT:
Vic Ganey

Phone (314) 472-5539

SOURCE Peabody Energy

 

Read more

The following letter has been sent by Coal Is Killing Kids to lawyers for Peabody Energy in response to their threat. (Several threats followed from other coal companies, but we did not bother to answer them.)

Dear Andrew Baum, Foley Lardner LLP, and Peabody Energy,

Thank you for your thoughtful letter demanding that we remove Peabody’s name from www.coalcares.org and cease falsely suggesting that Peabody cares about kids made sick by coal.

Your threat, although entirely baseless (see the EFF's response and blog post), did make us realize one thing: that Peabody, despite being our country's largest coal producer, and one of the largest lobbyists against common-sense policy, accounts for a mere 17% of U.S. coal production. The remaining 83% comes from 28 other companies, who are, every bit as much as Peabody, giving kids asthma attacks and other illnesses.

As even you may agree, the root of the problem is not Peabody, but rather our system of subsidies, regulations, and lobbying that lets your whole industry continue its lethal work. To make this clear, we have changed every instance of the word “Peabody” on www.coalcares.org to a rotating selection of the names of other large U.S. coal producers who, like Peabody, also need to be stopped from killing kids.

Very truly yours,
Coal is Killing Kids and the Yes Lab
coalcares@yeslab.org, (314) 472-5539

P.S. You suggest in your letter that “Peabody has a First Amendment right not to be involved with the dissemination of a message with which it does not agree,” a statement which, while completely untrue, does recall the World Resources Institute’s longstanding demand that you cease falsely attributing to them the nonsense statistic that “for every 10-fold increase in per-capita energy use, individuals live 10 years longer.” As the WRI notes:

First, WRI has never made such an assertion and has never done analysis to that effect. Second, this conclusion ignores critical factors related to energy production and human health. WRI’s longstanding support for a global transition to cleaner, low-carbon energy is well-documented.

We would be grateful if you would stop misquoting WRI and issue a corrective statement within the next 24 hours.

Read more

May 10, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tackling Childhood Asthma Not Coal Industry Priority After All
No more My Little Pony inhalers in stock

     Contact: asthma@coalcares.org, (314) 472-5539

A charitable initiative by the world's largest coal company to provide free “novelty-themed” inhalers to asthmatic children may have seemed for a moment like a (somewhat misguided) breath of fresh air, coming as it did from an industry whose emissions are directly linked to childhood asthma, and which is fighting to gut clean air legislation that would save children’s lives.

Coal Cares™ (www.coalcares.org) purported to “make asthma cool” with decorative and pop-culture inspired inhalers (“The Bieber,” “Harry Potter,” “My Little Pony,” and “My First Inhaler” were particular favorites). The site also announced that Peabody would offer $10 coupons towards asthma medication (about 5%-20% of the cost) for families living within 200 miles of a coal-fired plant. It featured a “Kidz Koal Korner” with asthma-related games for tots, an extensive asthma trivia section and FAQ (Peter the Great was asthmatic, who knew!), and a thorough condemnation of solar and wind alternatives.

It was, of course, a hoax, and it was aimed at Peabody Coal, which is lobbying ferociously against new pollution standards for power plants proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), standards the agency says will prevent 120,000 cases of childhood asthma each year in the United States. Peabody spent over $6 million lobbying Congress last year, and the industry has created a dizzying array of fake “grassroots” front groups to distort the public debate and fight legislation.

(Meanwhile, a new study by the American Lung Association notes that coal-fired power plants produce more hazardous air pollution in the United States than any other source, with the pollution killing 13,000 people a year. Coal-ash disposal alone increases risk of cancer, learning disabilities, birth defects and other illnesses due to exposure from heavy metals such as arsenic, lead and mercury.)

The Coal Cares™ hoax was devised by a group called Coal is Killing Kids (CKK), a small environmental and public health group that aims to challenge Big Coal’s expensive lobbying against sensible updates to the Clean Air Act. “We don’t have their millions, but we do have a knack for incredibly tasteless jokes,” said Veronica Tomlinson, a pediatrician and member of CKK. CKK worked with the Yes Lab, which is a project of The Yes Men to help activist groups carry out media-savvy creative actions on their own.

"Sure, it’s kind of tasteless to say that ‘Bieber’ inhalers are a solution to childhood asthma," said Janet Bellamy, a spokesperson for CKK. "But it's a great deal more tasteless to cause that asthma in the first place, as coal-fired power plants have been proven to do." Added Justin V. Bond, another spokesperson for CKK: “It’s even more tasteless to disproportionately kill poor people.” Coal-fired power plants are very often built in areas populated by low-income citizens, who then bear the brunt of the health effects.

“People may laugh at our sick jokes,” said Bellamy, “but they also understand the real health impacts of burning coal. That’s exactly what the coal industry doesn’t want people to think about, because if enough of us were aware of it, we would shut these plants down once and for all.”

 

Read more